Explore the highlights of my interview on BE THAT LAWYER with Dan Gershenson! This edited transcript addresses lessons learned from developing a small business, the biggest mistakes made in social media marketing, and the difference between niching your brand and niching your business.
“There’s a difference between niching your brand, and niching your business.” — Dan Gershenson
Steve: What is something you would like to share as it relates to what you’ve learned running a successful small business?
Dan: Well, I’ve certainly learned that mistakes are part of the game, that you are always going to make mistakes. There’s a learning experience from that. But I think also one of the greatest things that you taught me, Steve, is that you have a phrase that I always loved as it relates to golf, which is enjoy the swing. What is means is that you actually are able to enjoy the process of going after a client, that you don’t put the pressure on yourself to close a client today in one event or one meeting, necessarily move. Not necessarily thinking that that it has to be when it’s a complex sale, that it has to be unnecessarily rushed because you’ll feel it, other people will see it, and it just won’t feel natural. So, when you slow it down just a tad and you get more consultative rather than too pitchy, great things can happen. You’re one of the people that really taught me that. From doing that, I learned to relax a little bit because nobody else was going to wear the new business hat with me. And that’s the biggest thing I think I’ve learned in many ways.
Steve: What are the biggest mistakes that you see professionals doing in their social media posting, their branding, whatever it is that they’re doing to try to get out there and put their content into the world?
Dan: I think one of the biggest things including in branding, that I see is that people tend to be working within their own professional world in the way that they talk only about their own suite of services. They don’t know what makes them different. Even on their website, they aren’t giving a discernible point of difference. They aren’t writing for their customers or prospective customers, they write for their industry or their peers. For example, when PPP loans were going out to small businesses, I can’t tell you how many firms sent me an email of just the biggest gobbledygook of stuff that I couldn’t understand. Maybe if I work in their field, I know what they’re saying, but I don’t know what that means otherwise. So, the thing that that I think that you have to do is get out of your own skin and realize that you’re not talking to a lawyer. I don’t care about your ability to talk to other lawyers, because your customer, your future client is not a lawyer. It’s going to be someone who has never been to law school. So you’ve got to be more conversational in your content. And if you can’t, then you’ve got to hire somebody like me or somebody else like me who can do that for you.
Steve: Can you explain the difference between niching your brand and niching your business?
Dan: Yes. So, for example, let’s say that your firm does ten different types of law. I think the challenge that you will have is if you try to promote all of those equally front and center as far as your brand, you’re going to probably confuse people about what you do best. Versus if you really have one or two areas of law that get people in the door. Those areas should take a bit more of the lead versus some of the others. For example, you can do a lot of things for people once they come in the door, but the reality is they are coming to you for specific purposes. It’s only after that first meeting they realize you can help them with other things, but in content marketing you can’t come out with every single service you provide right away and just say “Well, we’re good at all of these matters”.
You know that there are certain departments, certain areas of your firm that people use more than others. And it doesn’t mean that you never talk about those other areas. It just means what do you want to be known for most? Those are the firms that get ahead.
Steve: What should professional be doing right now to stay active and build their brand?
Dan: The best thing you can do right now for your clients and even possibly your prospects who don’t even know you that well yet but by asking questions that are not just related to what you do, but also related to how their business can be getting some momentum, that’s really what people find invaluable I think. It’s your ability to speak to others on their level, not from an industry perspective again, but on their level. Be a business adviser to them. Don’t be a lawyer. Don’t be a marketer. Don’t be a salesperson. Be a business advisor to them in their language. Break it down like I’m a two-year old. I think those are the people that tend to win. I think those are the people that get ahead and those are the people who have things that get shared.
Also, I would take one step back right now and take a look at your strategy and understand this much – there’s not one kind of brand strategy out there for any kind of business that should take more than two months, at maximum. So, if you think it’s going to be something that you should sit on for the next six months, you’re wrong. It’s something that can take as little as three or four weeks or two months maximum. Then you’ve got direction and then you can go forward. But don’t start just doing stuff for the heck of it so that you can be active. It does nobody any good just to do video, do blogs, do this, do that, until you have a strategy in place. That’s what we recommend right now, identify and implement a strategy.